Answer to Question #9993 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Nuclear Power, Devices, and Accidents — Nuclear and Radiation Accidents

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

I'm a bit concerned over recently imported (used) cars from Japan. Could they be contaminated with radioactivity? Could they pose a serious risk for the occupants? I have heard that only automobile manufacturers tested their cars for radiation. What about used cars?

The Japanese response to the Fukushima accident is based on the concept of dose. Dose is the amount of radiation actually or potentially received by people. The response is designed to prevent doses above a certain limit. Doses below that limit are small and considered safe. So what would be the dose from cars exported from Japan with radioactive fallout on them? That dose would be small. The fallout on the cars would cause near zero dose to drivers, unless it found its way into food (very unlikely) or into breathing air. The best way to prevent any dose in this situation is to wash the outside of the car and vacuum the inside, removing any fallout. I hope this allays your concerns.

Joel I. Cehn, CHP
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